What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Today was the day of departure, which involved a flight to Reykjavik (who knew it’s actually called Keflavik?), and then onto New York City JFK.
Leaving family on a trip that’ll last multiple months is always pretty rubbish so this morning I thought the best strategy would be to get the goodbyes done speedily and try not to dwell. And what better way to take your mind off of something than faff about with tired and moody airport staff?
Getting to Manchester airport with loads of time in hand, the bike box, which is absolutely massive, took a long while to sort. After plenty of waiting around, the bike being brushed for dynamite, and some very funny looks, the ample buffer time actually ended up being a mad frantic rush to get on the plane in time.
After the previous couple of days, I was totally shattered so slept like a log for most of the first flight and landed in Iceland around 3.00pm local time for a quick switch onto the America leg.
Looking out of the plane from Iceland to America made the cycling part of the project, for the first time, tangible in my mind. I think I’d been blocking out the reality of the task before that moment. The expanse just coming over the east coast of Canada and dropping into the US is quite something. I was surprised to feel very anxious about it all. Not about the ride, sure it’s a long trip but it’s simple. More the thought of being away from family and friends for months and coping with that. Theres a lot of ground to cover, a ton of time to think, and it’s most certainly going to be an adventure.
Back to the journey, it was all going so well, until the captain clearly was staying in the air intentionally. He’d earlier said that all was well, they just had to clear snow off the runway for twenty minutes or so. Snow? What snow? They didn’t mention that on the forecast! He swooped down, getting very close to landing, and then suddenly used full throttle to avoid touchdown and begin a rapid ascent. Something was clearly wrong, or he just liked drawing shapes on the trip computer.
There was minimal visibility and poor weather, and landing safely wasn’t going to happen. (EDIT: Turns out the Nor’easter had arrived) Then a tannoy announcement. “Ladies and gentleman, due to deteriorating weather in New York, we have no alternative but to divert to Washington D.C.” Shit! This threw a major spanner in the works as the entire trip navigation was waiting at a hostel in NYC. A Magellan GPS and ACA maps. Bugger.
Waiting around at Washington D.C. it was quite unclear whether we’d be going back to JFK, until finally the pilot “wanted another pop at it”. And this time with success, and applauses from the cabin.
After cueing through customs, it was time to collect the bags and bike box. The bags came quickly, and then nothing. It took about an hour after everyone had collected their baggage for a friendly chap to bring the bike box into the collection area. It was quite surprising to see the box in absolute tatters! It made moving it a challenge but thankfully everything is in tact.
Leaving the airport, as they’d said, it was snowing in New York, apparently for the first time this year. Not a whiteout or anything but moderate snow and strong gusts.
After a day of mini-epics, I finally made it to the hostel, bike and bags in tow. In a weird way, I enjoyed the travel issues. It wouldn’t be an adventure if nothing went wrong on day 1 right?
Just one last thing – a massive shout out to all those who have helped and supported the project in the last few weeks. It’s been amazing, so thank you! It begins!